The challenges and possibilities of reflective learning in higher education. Research focused from the perspective of university students on four different degree courses
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AuthorColomer. J.; Fernández Peña, Rosario; Alsina, A.; Ayllón, S.; Fullana, J.; Pallisera, M.; Pérez Burriel, M.; Serra, L.
© , IATED Academy
ICERI2014 Proceedings, pp. 4770-4777
Proceedings of ICERI2014 Conference 17th-19th November 2014, Seville, Spain
ATED International Association of Technology Education and Development
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New Experiences for Curriculum
Despite an increase in university teaching practices based on reflective learning methodology (RL), only very few studies are found in the context of higher education aimed at determining students? perception of this approach to teaching and learning. The aim of this research was to ascertain the opinions of students on different university degree courses regarding the challenges, difficulties and contributions arising from the application of reflective learning methodology in their learning process so as to propose strategies for improving education. The study was carried out on four Bachelor degree courses at the University of Girona: Social Education, Environmental Sciences, Nursing and Psychology. The research was conducted in two stages. In the first (2011-12 academic year), a questionnaire was administered to 162 students (43 from Social Education; 33 from Environmental Sciences; 31 from Nursing; and 55 from Psychology). One section of the questionnaire was specifically devoted to studying the perceptions of students participating in various RL experiences regarding the main difficulties they faced and the contributions of the RL to their learning process. Among the highlighted difficulties was the fact that RL requires a work process they are not used to and their lack of reflective writing skills. Among the contributions, the students felt that RL results in more complex and selfregulated knowledge, develops greater dynamic capabilities and increases the degree of reflection on learning processes and areas for improvement. In the second stage of the study (2012-13 academic year), four focus groups were held with students who had participated in the previous years? experience with the aim of gaining further insight into their perceptions regarding the challenges and contributions of RL. A total of 20 students participated, all of whom gave informed written consent. The sessions were recorded and transcribed in full and a thematic content analysis was performed. In all four groups the students stated that the experience had allowed them to improve their learning and become aware of their current situation and areas for improvement. As for the challenges, they cited difficulties in understanding the aims and purpose of RL, particularly at the beginning of the experience, together with problems experienced in writing about it, doubts about the level of openness required and uncertainty about how they would be assessed. The research conducted suggested that RL has significant potential to connect academic activity with professional action. It also provided working guidelines for improving experiences carried out on the basis of RL. These include the need to clarify the methodology and present arguments for its use, so that students understand the type of work it will mean for them and the objectives they pursued. Students should also be provided with sufficiently clear guidelines regarding how they will be assessed (in relation to both activities and level of reflection). There is a need to build a group climate based on mutual trust, continuous feedback and the establishment of a support process that maintains this trust throughout the learning process.